Baptists and the American Civil War: September 24, 1863

revivals_confederatesThis week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder publishes several letters from Confederate army chaplains and missionaries, as well as accounts of church revivals in North Carolina. At times, soldier evangelism and church revivals overlap, as related in the following letter.

Hertford County, Sept. 14, 1863.

Dear Brother Hufham:–Allow me a short space in the Recorder to tell you and your readers what the Lord has done for us in this section. On the 21st of August, the day set apart by the President [Jefferson Davis] as one of fasting, humiliation and prayer, I, together with the members and visitors of Mt. Tabor, repaired to that church to observe the day as requested by our beloved Executive, and right truly was it observed. An undisturbed sanctity seemed to pervade the entire assembly. I never saw a more devout congregation, nor have I ever seen one so apparently sensible of their dependence on Him who doeth all things well. A brother was heard, after he left the house, to say: “I feel that the end which we had in view in coming together has been accomplished.” On the following Sunday I preached the funeral of a soldier, and so evidently was the Lord with us that we agreed to continue the meeting, which lasted eight days. God had a blessing in store for us; and during that time He abundantly showered it upon us. Nearly sixty souls professed faith in Christ. Representatives from almost every class were made partakers of the blessings of God’s grace. The drunkard was reformed, the backslider was reclaimed, the servant was made the servant of the Lord; and the soldier enlisted in that army which is to be victorious over death itself. The meeting closed on the eighth day, but not because it had at all abated in interest. The number of attendants swelled daily, and the Spirit had seemingly begun to make conquest of hearts old in sin, which He had during the week wooed so faithfully, though at first apparently unsuccessfully. The farmers were necessarily bound to be at home, and the laborers were exhausted; so were compelled to close the meeting, leaving many bowed down beneath a load of guilt, among them the farmer of advanced years, and the soldier whose heart could only be moved by the touch of God’s Spirit.

On yesterday, Sunday, I, having on the previous day, been set apart to the work of the ministry in the usual manner, assembled with a large majority of the new converts at the water’s edge and with them “went down into the water” where about fifty were “buried with Christ by baptism.” Just fifty had given their names as candidates for baptism, but a few of them were absent. Among the baptized were _____  and the household a Methodist lady, and what would perhaps be more calculated to affect your soldier readers, one of their wounded companions, walking into the water on his crutch to obey his Savior.

Allow me here to mention what is a little remarkable. The church where the revival occurred, was an encampment for the Yankees in their recent raid through this section; the souls upon whom God poured His blessings were principally the victims of the ravages of the unprincipled foe, and the place of baptism was precisely where a small body of Confederates met the enemy and exchanged a few shots with them–the Confederate troops being fortified on one side of a wide creek, over which extends a long bridge, and the enemy occupying the other. How changed the scene! One Sabbath in the course of a few weeks you hear the rattle of the musketry of hostile parties resounding over the very waters where not long afterwards, on one of those sacred days, you see heaven-born souls in the presence of a large concourse of people declaring their enmity to the world and sin, and vowing allegiance to the cause of their Saviour in His own appointed way.

Our thanks are due to Elders McDowell and Lee for their services rendered. Elder Pittman, too, whose zeal in revivals would outlast several successive protracted meetings, was with us throughout the meeting.

We have had several large revivals in this section. They have been confined, as far as I have heard, exclusively to Baptist churches. I have written more than I tended–so I will close.

Yours in Christ,

W. A. Vann

Source: Biblical Recorder, September 23, 1863 (link)